I need to stop being MIL's babysitter.

(64 Posts)
SteadyEddie Tue 22-Apr-14 10:16:40

And I also need a backbone.

DH has three cousins, all girls, who all have children. MIL helps them out quite a bit and often has one of them every day in the holidays. I have three DC's, and how its worked out is that each of DH's cousins children are close in age to one of mine.

The problem is that MIL doesn't really want to take care of them (I don't think), so she ends up coming to my house with whichever one/two she has that day. Twice over the Easter holidays she turned up and then left 'to run some errands', she was gone 2 hours the first time, and nearly 4 the second time. At which point I rang her house as she wasnt answering her mobile and she answered. If I go out with my own children, she complains about what she is going to do, and when we went our on Good Friday, this was an 'inconvenience' hmm.

She is already making mutterings about may half term. She is very good company and I like spending time with her, but in small doses, not every single day of the holidays. My other issue is that the cousins are eating us out of house and home, and 2 of them tend to be quite rude and bossy.

AIBU to try and put a stop to it all of the time, or to go away for half term grin

SteadyEddie Tue 22-Apr-14 10:17:24

I should add that when she brings them round she just sits and drinks coffee, while I have to run round after 4 or 5 children.

LouiseAderyn Tue 22-Apr-14 10:19:04

You have to say something. These are not your kids and not your responsibility and if you say nothing then nothing will change!

littlegreengloworm Tue 22-Apr-14 10:19:24

I'd either say to her you are popping out ( she will offer to come though ) or sad away for half term!

I think I wouldn't mind the once, but it not to be that regular.

JennyOnAPlate Tue 22-Apr-14 10:23:14

Something needs to be said to her, and if she doesn't want to look after these children she needs to tell their parents!

What does your dh say?

SaucyJack Tue 22-Apr-14 10:23:28

YANBU, but tbf it sounds as tho she's being put upon just as much as you.

Why do your DH's cousins think your MIL wants to spend all day with somebody else's children/grandchildren?

SteadyEddie Tue 22-Apr-14 10:25:10

She offers to take them, which is the bit I can't understand. She says she loves spending time with children (probably because she has someone else to do all the leg work!)

shewhowines Tue 22-Apr-14 10:27:02

Set boundaries now or you will be doing this forever.

Say your dcs need time together on their own with you and you need time with other friends. Start small and build up the amount of times you refuse.

shewhowines Tue 22-Apr-14 10:29:14

She probably does enjoy spending time with them but it also pleasanter when another adult is present to bounce off each other, plus you "help" do the hard bits.
Set the boundaries.

What does your DH say?

Personally, I'd be out. A lot.

shewhowines Tue 22-Apr-14 10:31:50

Why should she need to be out though. It's perfectly reasonable to want to spend some downtime chilling at home, without entertaining.

AndHarry Tue 22-Apr-14 10:34:03

Maybe gently set some boundaries. Suggest an outing now for one day in the half term break. Something like: "We'd really like to do something with you and [DNs] over half term so can we schedule something now so I don't fill my calendar? How about the zoo on Monday?"

gamerchick Tue 22-Apr-14 10:34:54

I wouldn't be having that.. but I don't like people coming over through the day.

Could you go away for half term? Or tell her the next time she brings it up that you're going to be busy so won't be in a lot of the time.

and stop the running errands thing as well.. tell her to take them with her.

TheNumberfaker Tue 22-Apr-14 10:35:21

Be out... 'Such a nice day, we went for a loooong walk!' Or 'Such terrible weather, didn't want the kids cooped up in the house, we went to the museum/ soft play etc.'

I know OP shouldn't HAVE to be out of her own house, but it's just about breaking the habit.

MIL will have to look after the kids on her own and either a) quite enjoy it and get over the fear of being stuck with them all day b) decide it's too stressful and tell their parents its too much c) find someone else to dump on

Either way, OP gets her house back without being the baddie here.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 22-Apr-14 10:56:13

I would arrange directly with the cousins' parents for them to come to you, in small numbers or one at a time, for an afternoon or couple of hours each - whatever suits you, so your children do get a relationship with them.

That way your MIL gets defined time off from that child. If she suggests coming over, you can say, 'no, we had x here on Tuesday, we're doing our own thing today'.

Or, how would she feel about your DCs going to her house to play with the cousins?

You could also mention to the parents that she's struggling and perhaps they need to think about making other plans.

pictish Tue 22-Apr-14 10:58:37

Yanbu...I wouldn't be having this, and would put a stop to it pronto.
Just be 'busy' for as long as it takes for her to stop assuming that she can come round and put her metaphorical feet up while you do her donkey work.
You have allowed this to develop into a habit by not resisting...time for that to change.

PunkHedgehog Tue 22-Apr-14 11:32:34

Pre-empt her. Drop all your kids off at her house first thing while you 'run some errands' for 4 hours.

SteadyEddie Tue 22-Apr-14 11:40:41

He house isn't very child friendly - not toys and lots of delicate furniture. I cant actually remember the last time we were invited over.

I think that this plays a big part in why she comes to us, because its easy as we have a nice back garden with toys/trampoline as well as lots of other things to play with.

EverythingCounts Tue 22-Apr-14 11:41:21

Yes, you need to do something to break the habit. Or get your husband to have a word and say you are stressed and need to not have extra kids to look after.

thebodydoestricks Tue 22-Apr-14 11:46:43

You and your dh need to tell her straight that it's too much for both of you.

You are no longer able to have so many extra kids in your house as it's not fair to your own children.

Tell her you have plans.

Tell her it's up to her if she had the kids but you are only available at certain pre arranged times.

You are going to have to be direct and do is your dh.

MistressDeeCee Tue 22-Apr-14 11:47:45

Id have said something ages ago and don't understand why you are letting this woman take the piss.

You don't need to go away for half-term. Just tell her calmly you can't do childcare for extra children its a lot of work and impacts on you financially too. She's being a bully really, imposing her will on you. But you need to develop a backbone somehow; you're a mother there may be times when you have to stand up for your children along the way in this life and that can't happen if you're in the habit of allowing yourself to be a pushover. Find your tongue and your voice, and speak out.

Its a shame for the cousin's children tho. You sound a good person to be doing all that and they will probably miss not being at yours so much. But MIL needs to get lost. If she can't manage the children then tell their parents, and don't have them. Simple as that. Its not your call

Answer the door with your coat on and a pair of DC's shoes in your hand.

So sorry, just on your way out, let's arrange for another day...

RiverTam Tue 22-Apr-14 11:54:51

if MIL's house is obviously not set up for having hoardes of young around, what do the cousins think she is doing with them? Why hasn't she got any toys etc there, if she wants to have them so much? When my DM started looking after DN she got some stuff in - new, from charity shops, and passed on from neighbours.

It all sounds a bit odd. I wonder how much pressure she is under to look after these DC - I know she is saying she wants to, but it doesn't really sound like it (not that I blame her).

Nothing wrong with properly arranging a day or two per holidays that she brings the DC over. But she can't just keep either popping round or expecting you to be there. If she can't cope she needs to say so.

I would start by getting DH to speak to his cousins, get their take on it.

LouiseAderyn Tue 22-Apr-14 11:55:41

A lot of people fear being the baddie or coming across as rude and this is why other people take ruthless advantage.

I wouldn't be out or arrange to have the cousins over - it really is okay to just be honest and tell the truth. Your mil isn't worrying too much about inconveniencing you so don't worry too much about inconveniencing her and reclaiming your home.

In the end all these sorts of issues on MN, where one person is being put upon, comes down to a selfish person putting what they want above the needs of the person they are taking advantage of and that person being too polite and kind to put a stop to it.

Goldmandra Tue 22-Apr-14 11:56:23

Just tell her straight out that you enjoy their company but not every day of the holidays because you'd like some time with your DCs to do things as a family. You'd like to choose just one or two days to see them over half term please.

TwoAndTwoEqualsChaos Tue 22-Apr-14 11:57:13

Odd she had those three children rather than yours to whom she is more nearly related.

fuzzpig Tue 22-Apr-14 12:00:07


2rebecca Tue 22-Apr-14 13:23:20

Agree with other. Tell her you find it too stressful with all the children and that if she chooses to babysit children then you'd rather she didn't come round as much in the holidays and just did her own thing with them. Yes she'll grumble but it's her choice to have them. Make excuses if she talks about coming round. Don't let her go out on errands without them.
If she finds it too much she needs to sort it with her nephew, it's not as though they're her grandchildren and she feels obliged to have them

QueenofallIsee Tue 22-Apr-14 13:52:41

I really sympathise with you Steady, I think this must be a very awkward situation for you. Sounds like your MIL enjoys being thought of as a 'wonderful help' to the family but doesn't really like babysitting!

As she is taking such liberties by leaving the children with you without prior arrangement and complaining if you are out when she turns up without notice, I can't see being busy/on your way out working with. I think your DH (as its his Mother) needs to help you actually say bluntly 'Don't bring them round every day, we find it a bit much to take as well as expensive'. Good luck though OP, its not an easy one I'd imagine

SteadyEddie Tue 22-Apr-14 17:11:52

Sounds like your MIL enjoys being thought of as a 'wonderful help' to the family but doesn't really like babysitting!

I think you have hit the nail on the head.

I am going to get DH to say something - he has made comments to me before about her taking the mickey, and he got quite cross about the 4 hour absence. She does offer to have our DC's in the holidays but I always decline because I see how much she doesn't actually enjoy it. I have tried before to make arrangements with her, but she just turns up on the day, saying the children want to come and visit.

We are going away in the summer and she exclaimed that she doesnt know what she is going to do. I even jokingly offered her a key to the house and she seemed over the moon.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 22-Apr-14 17:18:44

Well spotted OP it can take a long time for the penny to drop. You're too nice and MIL has been taking advantage. Agree with others why should you fake going out, it's perfectly reasonable to want to chill at home by yourselves.

TheWordFactory Tue 22-Apr-14 17:25:51

Absolutely get your DH tp tell her she can't drop in and leave the otehr DC with you. It's too much. Also, it presumably means you can't go out yourself!

Other than that - be out!

Scrounger Tue 22-Apr-14 17:28:46

We had (hopefully it is in the past) something like this, PILs would come over to ours with our DN and stay over. We are just over an hour away so they can't pop in like your MIL which I'm sure would have happended. We have three small children, my SIL & BIL had one, so we ended up running around with four while they had a night and day off. It was much harder work with this additional child (some children slot in and it isn't any different but this was) and we had to work harder, clearing up, maintaining some sense of discipline etc.

I think that we are now out of it after DH kept dropping hints about how it was much harder, the children weren't getting to see their GPs as they spent all their time with DN etc. and they haven't asked in ages. I think the penny has dropped. In our case it happened because my SIL pushed it because DN loves my DS1 (and they had a night off) and my MIL doesn't like to say no to SIL and knows that we are pushovers. Yes as a PP said, no one cared about how we felt or if they did rationalised it as there were more adults so it was easier for us than if they didn't come over.

FelineLou Tue 22-Apr-14 17:30:58

Please do not give her that key. And start letting her know that the visits are too frequent and cost you money. The parents of these girls should be approached to stop some of this too.
Its that spine you need to strengthen.

rollonthesummer Tue 22-Apr-14 17:38:09

Why on earth would you offer her a key? I just don't understand?!

Fizzybangfanny Tue 22-Apr-14 17:38:58

op I have the same mil - I've had to cancel outings because she dropped niece and nephew off. Then pissed off to a party I should have been going to myself !!

So not to cause a huge drama just go out,make your self very unreachable. I had to pretend I wasn't in sometimes and lock the door then she would hammer, like the fucking police

If you bring this up, she won't see it as her taking the piss,it will be seen as you simply dont want the kids there.

Been there - lived that shit. Just hide and don't tell her any plans.

Fizzybangfanny Tue 22-Apr-14 17:39:59

Oh my god ! Don't offer her a fucking key !!!

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 22-Apr-14 17:40:25

OP said 'jokingly' but she (MIL) is going to cling onto that I fear.

thebodydoestricks Tue 22-Apr-14 17:45:03

Are you fucking insane??? No key and tell her there's an alarm set.....

You need to grow a pair op and more importantly so does your dh, it's his mother.

You might also ring up the cousins and tell them the score. Be upfront.

rollonthesummer Tue 22-Apr-14 17:47:47

I just don't understand how you've got into this situation? What do you say when she just turns up? Didn't you say anything as she was walking out leaving you with the children? Didn't you say something when she wasn't back for 4 hours??

If you've never complained-how will she know? If you've never complained-why not??

AnneElliott Tue 22-Apr-14 17:53:00

OP I feel your pain. My SIL was like this even before I had DS. On one occasion she suggested popping in with her 3 for a cup of tea. She came, went out to get something from her car( or so I thought) and disappeared for 5 hours! I had no kids of my own then and the youngest was a babyshock

You do need to get DH to be firm and say it is too much. One day by arrangement is fine, but constant dropping in is not.

ssd Tue 22-Apr-14 18:05:13

I don't know why you've put up with this so long..........

Fizzybangfanny Tue 22-Apr-14 18:09:44

rollon it's actually a lot harder than you expect.

You don't want to cause offence or trouble and if mil is confrontational, it's even harder.

I was intimidated by my mil for quite sometime until she bought random guests unexpected and I shouted at her, a complete over reaction on my part - but she's been wary since grin

expatinscotland Tue 22-Apr-14 18:10:19

FFS. Don't give her a key. Your DH calls her or stops by on person.

'It's not on for you to keep offering to have the kids and then rocking up to my house and dumping them on us. That stops now. Don't offer to take them if you can't have them at yours. We are not going to babysit them.'

She rocks up and you don't let her in. 'We told you we are not available.'

ssd Tue 22-Apr-14 18:12:39


expatinscotland Tue 22-Apr-14 18:22:04

And no, it is not hard to say.

Stop being such a doormat! Feeding these kids or putting up with rude or bossy brats.

YellowTulips Tue 22-Apr-14 18:22:48

Do the parents of the kids know, when they accept "help" from MIL that it's actually you doing all the work and paying for food?

I would do 3 things:

1. DH to contact the children's parents (assume his brother/sister - sorry not clear on the relationship) and explain what's happening. He needs to say that you can't continue to provide this level of childcare. They may be supportive, they may not. Best guess is they (if half decent) will feel embarrassed at accepting MIL's offers only to find they have been thanking the wrong person and think about alternate arrangements - at least most of the time.

2. Get your DH to speak to MIL and spell out the situation. Quite simply she looks after the kids as promised or she gets their parents to contact you directly for "play dates" if she can't. That way everyone is clear what is happening. She needs to cease this sporadic and somewhat disingenuous arrangement right now. Say looking after the kids on occasion is ok - but you are not her personal childminder (or at least not an unpaid one smile).

3. Looking after this many kids is hard. You can't actually go anywhere without the right car (not sure if you have an MPV) and it's costing you nearly double looking after your own kids. So to shore up your resolve start saving the money you should have spent on them and save up for a nice outing for your own family.

Lastly DO NOT give keys to your house over the holiday. confused

SquidgyMummy Tue 22-Apr-14 18:23:31

Everyone in your family just seems to take the piss; The cousins-in-law and the MIL.
No extra advice to add but I hope you do learn to stand up to her...

expatinscotland Tue 22-Apr-14 18:27:29

Move all the play equipment indoors, too, so she can't come use your garden.

SteadyEddie Tue 22-Apr-14 18:27:52

I was joking about the key. I wont be giving her the key and my DB will be staying at our house while we are away anyway.

Its difficult because she is so forceful and not the kind of person you can say no to, plus she takes offense very easily.

YellowTulips Tue 22-Apr-14 18:28:18

Good idea Expat re: the summer when you are away.

YellowTulips Tue 22-Apr-14 18:30:40

It's you who have the right to be offended - not her.

She's making out she's such a great help at the expense of someone else. Her behaviour is offensive. Remember that. Let her huff and puff.

TheFarceAndTheSpurious Tue 22-Apr-14 18:33:50

You could be breezily PA and create one of those online 'family diary' things ... Put what you are doing in each day (or whatever) or only have certain days 'open' talk about streamlining and moving forward say here are the slots you have as options to visit us... Lets diarise etc.

expatinscotland Tue 22-Apr-14 18:37:42

So that gives her a license to treat you like shit?

No, nothing difficult about it at all.

Your DH or both of you be just as fucking forceful back.

Kundry Tue 22-Apr-14 21:00:32

Of course she takes offense easily - it keeps you all in line!

I think you have to be OK with offending her this time, especially as you also hold more cards than you think ie access to your DH and your kids.

The world will not fall in if she is offended (honestly, it really won't)

quietbatperson Tue 22-Apr-14 21:11:05

So offend her! If she takes the huff and stops speaking to you, what exactly is the downside?

maddening Tue 22-Apr-14 21:14:43

she could look after her other gc in their own homes while the parents are out for a start rather than in her own home.

Joylin Tue 22-Apr-14 21:58:37

She doesn't care for offending or imposing on you so don't concern yourself with her reaction. Practice using 'no', don't indulge her, tell her you're busy, don't answer the door to her, be unavailable at all times until she gives up and finds someone else to impose on.

Don't ever let her into the house uninvited again, set strong boundaries and don't give her room to cross them.

As someone else said, people like this take advantage of your fear of appearing rude when they're being the rude ones. Lose that fear and run your own life the way you want.

rollonthesummer Tue 22-Apr-14 22:16:35

She's taking the piss massively and won't stop till you tell her to.

2rebecca Tue 22-Apr-14 22:31:40

I agree that people who take offense easily are often people who don't care how offensively they behave to other people. They rely on their "I'm so upset and offended act" to manipulate people and get their own way.
If she chooses to get upset when you tell her you want some peace in your holiday she chooses to get upset. her choice. She can easily stop the babysitting if she really doesn't want to do it so she's getting upset over nothing.
You don't always let children who get easily upset have their own way so I don't see why people behave differently to overemotional adults.

mimishimmi Tue 22-Apr-14 23:03:19

Is she agreeing to take them on in advance or is she getting dumped upon at the last minute too? If it's the latter, I'd actually turn up at the cousin's work a few times, all the kids in tow, with their child and say that MiL has suddenly dumped them on you, you can't get in touch with her and she could be gone for hours. Then I'd add you have planned something else to do with your own children today and that you will have to leave theirs with them. If they don't know what's going on, they'll soon start declining her offers to take the kids in the holidays. If they do know, they'll now be aware it's unacceptable to you and will worry you will return them right back at an inconvenient time again. Caring for other people's children in the holidays is NOT your problem.

Joylin Tue 22-Apr-14 23:31:40

Excellent idea mimishimmi!!

Birdsighland Tue 22-Apr-14 23:51:20

I don't think they are her grandchildren, Maddening. I think the op said they are her grandnieces/grandnephews.

It sounds relentless, op. I can't get over the fact she had left them at yours and was quite nicely ensconced back at her house.

I hope you succeed in setting up some boundaries, for your own family's sake.

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